Highland Manor on Romantic Aviemore in River Hills

Do you yearn for new construction with old school quality? Something grand, not grandiose, surrounded by similar properties? A spacious-yet-sensible plan and not a McMansion clone? River Hills, part of the interesting and evolving Edwards Ranch story, may be your answer. Founded in 1848, Edwards Ranch is older than Fort Worth itself. Now it is the locus for the most exciting new developments  in the city. It includes River Hills, the Waterside retail development, and  the Shops at Clearfork, anchored by the new Neiman Marcus. The weight and force of all of this development, together with the energetic rejuvenation of the Near South Side, is generating a gravitational pull which challenges the heretofore uncontested hegemony of the West Side.

The truth is that I have been longing to write about River Hills for some time, and prowl the area from time to time. This week I stumbled onto 3737 Aviemore a stone revetted, manorial abode, perched on a high bluff built in 2009. The street is romantically named after a resort in the highlands of Scottland and as north Texas goes, the area is hilly.

“You just don’t find this level of quality in new construction,” observes listing agent Jackie Prowse of Williams Trew. “So much effort is in what you don’t see. The peers for the foundation go down to bedrock and then some,” she adds. Roof peaks are taken up to their full extensions, and the roof is overlaid with extra thick slate.

The terrace has views of the west bluff. These bluff lots sell for more — as much as $1.5 million for the dirt. Fort Worth is so westward obsessed it’s almost as if it is loathe to surrender the setting sun. Our house, however, has its own unique compensations.  Just look at the quantity of large-specimen trees which have been hauled in and planted here. In 10 years, these houses will blend into a beautiful landscape.

The library to the left of the entry is one of five living areas. Though the ceiling peaks at 25 feet, the room has an intimate feel. The custom gray finish is beautifully executed.

How refreshing it is not to see the entire house from the front door. The foyer is grand enough but doesn’t have the cold, hotel lobby feel of many new builds of this size. Equally refreshing is not to encounter the expected dark “ye olde” over-scraped flooring. The stairway ascends in a graceful curve and is crowned by an impressive dome. The hardwood treads were milled on site.

The dining room, to the right of the vestibule, has a coffered ceiling. A butler’s pantry with a full wet bar connects the dining room to the kitchen.

The fully stocked kitchen — six burner Wolf range, Sub Zero fridge — overlooks the large beamed family room. The shell niches with built-in cabinetry are another old fashioned, quality detail. The house is perfectly organized for family living and, oh — more good news — River Hills has access to Tanglewood schools.

The spacious master bedroom has a third fireplace. The box-pleat pellet curtains are exquisitely fabricated.

The bath features twin vanities, a soaker tub illuminated by an oval window, and a master closet with a packing cabinet. Frankly, I lost track of all of the storage closets in this 6,000-square-foot house. Memorable is a large room devoted entirely to Christmas decorations and wrapping. There is an additional, private and charming bedroom on the ground floor, ideal for guests or live-in staff.

Upstairs bedrooms are connected by a lovely groin-vaulted corridor with delicate custom wall sconces. The house is listed as a four-bedroom, five-and-one-half-bath house, but some of the upstairs living areas could be converted into bedrooms. In addition, there is a very large, semi-finished room that could be made into a bedroom suite or home gym.

An upstairs study has windows on two sides. The beadboard ceiling brings the outdoors in.

Upstairs and downstairs patio both have fireplaces and run the length of the house. Notice the quality of the ironwork.

You may not be able to watch the sunset from the upstairs loggia, but you do have a fine unobstructed view of downtown, which seems to emerge from an endless forest of trees.

River Hills has a very strict code, which governs building specs and setbacks, as well as quality of materials. There is flexibility in style of construction, which can include modern design, but careful control of scale guarantees a harmonious environment.

Jackie Prowse of Williams Trew is offering 3737 Aviemore for $2.975 million.

Eric Prokesh is an interior designer whose work has appeared on HGTV, and in books and publications including D Home, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, and House and Garden. In January 2005, HG named Eric one of the 50 tastemakers in America and D Home has included him as one of Dallas’ Best Designers for 10 years. Having lived most of his life in Dallas, he now calls Fort Worth home and is one of our experts on beautiful Fort Worth Dirt.